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This blog is provided by Dan Mushalko, as a companion to the interview with Jack Modzelewski and his interview on Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future titled Leadership, Communication and Credibility in a High-Stakes World that aired on April 14, 2020.
Humanity sits unquestionably in transition. This is particularly true in the United States, which faces three simultaneous and intertwined crises: a wounded economy, a blistering pandemic, and dynamic social upheaval from racial inequality.
There simply is no going back to the old normal. This tumultuous trio weighs heavily on realities we’ve hidden and ignored for too long.
Change, then, is inevitable. Whether that change advances us or mires us in the past depends firmly on our leadership. Successful change depends on everyone participating in the change process. This has never been more true. We each get to take an active role and, more than ever before, our voice impacts the success or failure of the changes we are seeing. The phrase, “many hands make quick work” applies here. Where a group of people are working together, toward a common cause, the change effort is much easier.
From individual Facebook posts to mass-appeal pulpits of TV pundits, too many of us are reacting to that change with fear. Poor leaders divide us to amplify our fear, wielding it for power at the polls.
Fortunately, there’s a science to change. Change is inevitable, so of course it’s been studied. Biology and chemistry, chaos theory and game theory – much of science rests squarely on the universe’s need for change. In business, this has resulted in the field of change management. From a broader organizational perspective, change is a vital part of survival. In biology, we see evolution and survival of the fittest. In business, similar principles apply. We hear them expressed as change or die. The same would be true of non-profits and political organizations.
If science and organizations thrive on change, where does all this angst come from?
Bluntly, fear of change is, in part, the result of bad leadership.
Short of Charles Dickens sending three ghosts to them in one night, our current crop of bad leaders won’t improve. That means it’s up to you to lead us through this change. We are in a time where the actions of each individual matter more than ever. Just calm one person. Allay their fear. All you need is one person helped to make a difference. It starts with you leading yourself. It doesn’t matter if you are a college student or a CEO, leadership always starts with yourself before you can effectively lead others.
Try these steps:
- Ask “why.” Why is change happening? Why is it needed? How will it impact me?
- Remember that (videos of throngs aside) real change is individual; it happens person by person. Your reaction matters.
- Change is a choice. Ask them – What future would you choose? How can you help bring about a more positive, sustainable, and just future?
- Keep in mind that much of the fear arises when people see change coming, but don’t know how to deal with it in their personal lives or within their organizations.
- Help them. From COVID to racism, explore why change is needed. Conflict feeds fear, so be calm and seek to understand. Compassion and empathy begin with you. You don’t need to agree or disagree, you can just listen and learn and reflect on what you are hearing before expressing your point of view.
- Recalling how you have been successful at making personal and/or organizational change in the past can boost your self-confidence about your personal change journey.
- Once you have managed your own concerns, share your personal success with others. How have YOU embraced change? How did you overcome the challenges you faced? Are you helping build personal or societal infrastructure so the change will be lasting and positive?
I believe in a positive future, one in which society helps every one of us become the best versions of ourselves. Understanding that change — especially revolutionary change as we’re undergoing now — isn’t intuitive. Positive change needs guidance from you.
Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, Google Play, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify and iHeartRADIO. Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.
About the Author
Dan Mushalko’s professional life combined a short stint at NASA to a long ride in radio…with experiences often overlapping. Dan merges leadership, creativity, and science for people and organizations. The thread through it all: mixing creativity and leadership. Dan is a creative and innovative leader specializing in media management/leadership, creative concepts in audio, new communications technology, media analytics, creativity fostering and consulting, teaching, writing, and science.
Photo by Ian Panelo